A New Tutor’s Experience

As I have said here before, one of the most wonderful parts of our job is hearing about the experiences of our tutors and students.  At tutor training, a room full of new volunteers look at us with a bit of fear or lack of confidence, but within weeks of meeting with their students, they are realizing their ability to help and the impact of their volunteered time with an extremely grateful student.

The following is a recent report from Pam McGillian, a new tutor, regarding her student’s progress.

“My student and I, after only 4 sessions, have established a comfortable, humorous rapport and indeed, a budding friendship along with working towards her stated goals. She has told me a lot about herself and, among other things, we share an interest in politics.

“Towards her goals of improving listening skills and knowledge of idioms, last week I gave her the first 2 DVDs of The West Wing (WW) along with an assignment to write about a particular character. She LOVES WW (“her favorite DVD EVER!”), and wrote 3 double-spaced pages that we edited together this afternoon. She watched episodes multiple times, with subtitles, and paused and looked up dialogue she didn’t understand. She said she normally doesn’t like to write but laughed out loud while writing her given assignment with an angle I suggested.  We shared a lot of laughs while discussing characters on the show and going over her paper, and we also discussed serious aspects of politics in both the US and S Korea. For our next session she will write about a different character. When we parted this afternoon she said to me, “Pam – you are very precious to me.” Wow.

“Our primary activities during our meetings have been chatting, reading, discussing multiple issues, and writing – all the while (gently) correcting her when she uses a word incorrectly. She very much appreciates being told when/how to use a word and how to phrase certain expressions. She writes down how words are used differently under different circumstances and with what other words they are used, depending on what she wants to say. And she reviews her journal in between our sessions!

Justine kept her edited essay so that she can review it later. She’s keeping a journal in which we write down anything she didn’t already understand, and she obviously reviews it afterwards and remembers a lot, making a point to demonstrate her mastery of certain things we’ve discussed. She is a gem.”

If Pam’s account impresses you or inspires you, please consider becoming a tutor for the Volunteer English Program.  Visit our website or call us for more information.

Thank you to Pam!


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